Carrying on in my little exercise to simultaneously read more, write more, and post more, here we are on a very wet and rainy Tuesday.
First up, I’m going to pull two sentences from Thomas Tweed’s Crossing and Dwelling. Technically, I’m not really reading it right now. I read it cover to cover about a year ago; but it’s one of those books that comes up frequently enough to warrant a lot of going-back-to. Plus, I just recommended it to a fellow blogger and soon-to-be graduate student. So, here it is, forthwith:
In this chapter, I meet my role-specific obligation to reflect on the field’s constitutive term by offering a definition of religion, a positioned sighting that highlights movement and relation. This definition, which draws on aquatic and spatial tropes, is empirical in the sense that it illumines what I observed among Cubans in Miami and stipulative in that I think it might prove useful for interpreting practices in other times and places: religions are confluences of organic-cultural flows that intensify joy and confront suffering by drawing on human and suprahuman forces to makes homes and cross boundaries.
Whew. What a mouth-full.
And now on to me. I am currently in the midst of revising a paper I delivered to a conference in Tokyo some years ago. The revised paper is for the IBS Winter Symposium next week. As such, it has a much different audience and a much different theme. I’m going for something a bit more practice-oriented rather than theoretical, highlighting the import of music and ritual practice within American Shin communities. It’s all still very much a work in progress.
Often in the literature on American Buddhism, the Shin community is dismissed as either just a Japanese-American Buddhist group or, paradoxically, a group that has been thoroughly “Americanized” or “Protestantized.” Researchers seem to stop at the name “Buddhist Churches of America,” or get just inside the church doors and see the pews, and jump to the conclusion that the BCA is simply emulating normative Christian modes of practice in an attempt to “fit in” and not questioning those assumptions or probing any further into the history or ritual practices of the tradition.